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Woman ordered to pay back nearly $600,000 in wire fraud case

December 22, 2020 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A former payroll clerk for a South Dakota trucking company accused of writing checks to herself for more than a decade was sentenced Monday to federal prison and ordered to pay back more than half a million dollars.

Sheila Verbrugge, 50, of Brandon, pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud. Authorities say she began diverting money from a Blachowske Truck Line, Inc. account in January 2010. It continued until April of this year.

U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier sentenced Verbrugge to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Verbrugge was ordered to pay back $577,577.

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Verbrugge managed the company’s T-Chek account, which is used to pay for job-related expenses for the truck drivers, such as fuel and truck maintenance. Investigators say she issued T-Cheks payable to herself, deposited them into her personal account and then used the money for her own purposes.

Verbrugge disguised her theft by deleting her name and location and replacing it with names of Blachowske truck drivers and locations she knew to be associated with those drivers, according to court documents.

“This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to assisting law enforcement partners with investigations of costly financial crimes,” said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, which covers South Dakota.